How to Sight in a Red Dot? Step by Step Guide 2023

How to Sight in a Red Dot

How to Sight in a Red Dot? Step by Step Guide 2023

Red dot sights are versatile tools for gun owners as they’re designed to be user-friendly and help you aim quickly with a wide view. These advantages make them handy for different uses, like self-defense or sports shooting. Similar to a rifle scope, it’s important to adjust a red dot sight correctly for it to work well.

What is a Red Dot Sight?

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Red dot sights are a kind of tool that helps a shooter aim at their target. They show a red dot on the target, making it easier to focus. Unlike other optics, red dot sights use a single focal plane, so you can keep your focus on the target without changing it. When you shoot, the bullets go where the red dot is. These sights come in various sizes, suitable for different weapons.

How To Adjust a Red Dot Sight?

Similar to a rifle scope, you can change where your shots hit with red dot sights. Depending on the red dot sight you have, you can do this by turning knobs or pressing buttons. These adjustments can move the aiming point up and down (elevation) or left and right (windage). Usually, when setting up a red dot sight, you need to make both elevation and windage changes to make sure your shots land where you want them to.

How to Sight in a Red Dot (Step by Step)

Sighting in a red dot sight is a critical process to ensure accurate and precise shooting. Follow these steps to get your red dot sight dialed incorrectly:

Step 1: Set Up Your Iron Sights

When you’re getting your pistol’s red dot sight right, the first thing to do is choose a specific distance. This distance should match the type of shooting you plan to do.

Most self-defense situations occur at about seven yards away, so it’s a good idea to set your red dot at that distance. If you’re using it for competitions, you might want a bit more distance. That’s okay too, as long as it fits your needs.

Step 2: Get on the Dot

Once you’ve checked that your handgun’s iron sights are aiming correctly, you can now adjust your red dot accordingly.

Red dots should be in the center of the target’s mass as preferred by the experts. So, all we needed to do was make sure the red dot was positioned in the center of the front post, with the iron sights lined up.

To set the red dot to the center of the target’s mass, you need to align the front post and the back posts and make sure the red dot is halfway on the front post. In simple terms, the top of the front post should be in the middle of the red dot.

To do this properly, use a steady rest to support your pistol. This rest doesn’t have to be super sturdy because we’re not shooting from it. Its job is to reduce hand tremors and help us make sure the red dot is in the right place concerning the iron sights.

Final Step: Aim & Shoot

Once you’ve positioned the red dot at the center of the target, fire a few more shots to check the results by shooting in different group shots. This is a good sign that you’ve done a great job.

Now, when you shoot, all you need to do is find that red dot when you aim at the target. Wherever the red dot is, that’s where your bullet will hit. Using your red dot sight makes it easier to shoot accurately and quickly line up your aim. Plus, it helps you keep track of where you’re aiming, even when there’s recoil, which is a big advantage of having this kind of sight.

Red Dot Sight vs. Scope

Let’s talk about the difference between a red dot sight and a red dot scope. Red dot sights are not the best choice for shooting beyond 25 yards. On the other hand, a red dot scope combines a sight with a magnifier, allowing you to shoot accurately at longer distances.

The magnification in a red dot scope makes your red dot appear larger (measured in MOA), which helps with accuracy when shooting over longer distances. Once it’s zeroed in, your red dot should align with the direction of your firearm’s barrel.

Red dot scopes are usually more budget-friendly compared to other long-range optics. You can find a good-quality scope for around $300 or even less, which is much cheaper than options like the ACOG scope.

How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope

To use a red dot scope effectively, and understand its operation, it creates a dot reticle using an internal mirror. Align this reticle with your firearm’s barrel for accuracy. There are non-firing methods to zero a red dot, including boresighting tools like lasers, visuals, or optics.

After correctly employing boresighting, your red dot should be zeroed accurately without shooting. Beyond zeroing, practice gauging distance with both eyes open to align your shot. This skill is vital for precision. For long-range shooting, understand Minute of Angle (MOA) adjustments, typically one MOA per 100 yards. Red dot scopes often offer magnification, enhancing accuracy for distant targets.

Mount your red dot properly, ensuring your firearm is unloaded. A secure mount is crucial to avoid parallax issues. Consider mounting your red dot behind a reflex scope for more magnification without the cost of a full scope.

Once properly mounted and aligned, your red dot is ready for use without shooting. Initial adjustments may be needed after your first shot, but it should land near the target’s center.


Can you sight in a red dot without shooting?

Yes, you can sight in a red dot without shooting by using boresighting tools. These tools help align the red dot with your firearm’s bore without firing any shots. Boresighters project a laser dot onto your target, which you align with your red dot reticle, or they provide visual references to align the sight picture correctly. This allows you to zero your red dot accurately without the need for live ammunition, making the process quicker and more convenient.

Are red dots easy to sight in?

Red dots are generally easy to sight in. They offer a straightforward and user-friendly aiming system, which simplifies the zeroing process. Boresighting tools, like lasers, further ease the process, allowing users to align the red dot with precision. With some practice, most shooters can quickly and accurately sight in a red dot, making them a popular choice for both beginners and experienced marksmen.

How far should you sight in a red dot?

The distance at which you should see a red dot depends on your intended use. For self-defense and close-quarters shooting, zeroing at around 25 yards or meters is suitable, as most engagements occur within this range. If you plan to use your red dot for hunting or competitive shooting at longer distances, zeroing at 50 or 100 yards/meters may be more appropriate. However, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and shooting conditions when determining the optimal zero distance. Some shooters prefer to zero at shorter distances for faster target acquisition, while others opt for longer distances for improved accuracy at range.

Can you sight in a red dot scope without shooting?

Yes, you can sight in a red dot scope without shooting by using boresighting tools. These tools, such as laser boresighters, visual boresighters, and optical boresighters, help align your red dot with the bore of your firearm without the need for live ammunition. Laser boresighters project a laser dot onto your target, which you align with your red dot reticle. Visual boresighting involves removing the bolt (for bolt-action rifles) and aligning the sight picture with a distant point. Optical boresighters use an etched grid on a lens attached to your gun’s barrel. Correctly using these tools allows you to zero your red dot scope accurately without firing any shots.

Do you sight in a red dot scope?

You need to sight in a red dot scope to ensure it’s accurately aligned with your firearm. This process involves adjusting the red dot’s point of impact to match your point of aim, so your shots land where you intend. Properly zeroing a red dot scope is essential for accuracy and precision in shooting, whether for self-defense, target shooting, or hunting. It typically involves making adjustments using either manual methods or boresighting tools to align the red dot with your firearm’s bore.


Sighting in a red dot scope is a fundamental process for any shooter, and it can be achieved with precision using the right approach. Whether you’re using live ammunition or boresighting tools, the key is to align the red dot’s point of impact with your intended point of aim. By carefully adjusting the elevation and windage settings, you can ensure that your shots consistently hit the target where you want them to, whether it’s for self-defense, sports shooting, or hunting. Remember to consider the specific distance you’ll be shooting at and the conditions you’ll be facing, as this will influence your zeroing process. With patience and practice, you can achieve accuracy and confidence in your shooting with a properly sighted red dot scope.


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